Mother F'ing Valley Fever

...Leah's most ruthless nemesis to date; she has once again tested positive for Valley Fever...that s.o.b.

Leah first tested positive last summer and ended up taking pills (fluconazole, an anti-fungus treatment), twice a day, for eleven months. Her overall health at onset was disheartening at best. I didn't think she was going to live, and naturally, it crushed me. She was, and is, my baby. Her movement seemed horribly arduous and her appetite wasn't good. We could barely get her to go outside, and when she did make it out of the house she would lay down immediately. However, over the months with treatment, her energy level increased dramatically and her behaviors morphed, once again youthful, as she reignited her habit of racing me up the big hill in our neighborhood.

She again started acting funny, very unlike herself, a couple weeks ago...just like she had before the first diagnosis. Her movements seemed more restrictive, like she was sore. She was acting way less patient with Latimore, snapping and growling at him, and she wasn't as inclined to greet us at the door, choosing instead to stay in bed. I kind of didn't want to take her to the vet, because I kind of didn't want to admit to myself that she might be sick again. Luckily, I did take her, and sadly my assessment was accurate. Today, Leah started her second round of treatment.

Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis, is a fungal disease that can effect people and animals. There is no vacine and recurrence, once infected, is highly possible. The crazy thing about this disease is that it is an airborne fungus. Infectious spores make their homes in the desert down here (Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas primarily) and when we have dust storms, or new construction kicks up the dirt, or the dirt gets jostled around after a big rain storm, the spores are released into the air for anyone to inhale.

I was seriously bummed yesterday because I allowed myself to see our move down here as what caused this. I am well aware that absolutely anything can happen, and our living in deep Yelm prior to our move could have introduced some other weird bacteria to Leah's body and made her sick had we stayed. But you know, it just sucks.

Speaking of bacteria and deep Yelm...I'm reminded of a story. Tyler and I had just started dating when Leah came home from one of her backcountry solo expeditions. I remember looking out the window and noticing immediately that something about her appearance was amiss. As I observed her approach,  she appeared to be covered in some sticky, tar looking substance, kind of like that old hair product guys used to slick back their hair-if they then were also dying it black at the same time. I went out onto the porch and instantly was attacked by the worst smell I have probably ever smelled. The smell physically knocked me back inside the house where I proceeded to heave into the toilet while Tyler stood outside asking full of concern what was wrong. I tried my best to explain, but I didn't quite understand what was happening.

Apparently, Leah had located what most dogs would consider to be the golden ticket of the dog world. She found a "pool" of what I can only imagine was liquid shit, and happily jumped in. A leaky septic, some farming ravine...I really still have no idea what the cause, I just know she was covered from head to toe, like she not only jumped in, but proceeded to practice some synchronized swimming routines before "toweling off".

My body would not stop the process of throwing up, and Tyler, my now wonderful husband, lassoed Leah with her leash, led her to our ridiculously small stand up shower, turned the water on and closed the door behind her. He's told me how he then realized that she wasn't going to wash herself, so he stripped down and joined her for their very first shower together.

I have to imagine that this was after staring at himself in the mirror, glancing quickly over his shoulder at the shower as the steamy stench released its powers into the bathroom, and seriously considered if our relationship was even worth it.

This is Leah, not covered in shit, in our backyard in Yelm, Washington.


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